Spotlight: Aprille Ericsson

Aerospace Engineer

Aprille Ericsson was the first female (and the first African-American female) to receive a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Howard University and the first African-American female to receive a Ph.D. in Engineering at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. She was born and raised in the Bedford Styvesant neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York, and earned her bachelor’s in aeronautical/astronautical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

As a NASA engineer, Ericsson has worked on many projects, including the Microwave Anisotropy Probe, the Tropical Rainfall Measurement Mission, the James Webb Space Telescope, and in the Integrated Mission Design Center. Currently she is the instrument manager for a proposed mission to bring dust from the Martian lower atmosphere back to Earth.

Ericsson has won many awards, including the 1997 “Women in Science and Engineering” award for the best female engineer in the federal government, and has been profiled by NBC Nightly News, Essence Magazine, and other media outlets. She is a member of the NASA GSFC Speakers Bureau and the Women of NASA Group. Ericsson also teaches at Howard University at the collegiate and middle school level and is a member of their Board of Trustees.

Air in Space

January 3, 2006

Even astronauts’ waste water is put to work in the extreme environment of space.